Tinybuddha.com almost never fails me. I decided to visit the site to find calmness amidst my bad morning and voilà, the first feature article I found was How to Stop Agreeing to Things That Aren’t Good for You by Hailey Magee which exactly responds to the answers I was looking for.
I would like to share with you my thoughts on some points in the article that strike me the most:
“When we overpromise, we attempt to become an idealized version of ourselves—a version who does these things, effortlessly, on a certain timeline.” (added emphasis)
I like how the word highlighted above perfectly captures the idea whenever we add another task to our already overbooked schedule. It’s as if committing to that task would not take up our time, energy, and probably, money. It’s as if our well-planned schedule would not change. Truth is, even if at first we think that the new task is just a “minor” one, a little change in our plans can make a big difference in the overall goal.
Through this point, I was reminded to ask ourselves first whether it is really okay to agree doing a new task. We should remember that we can only do so much — and that is NOT to the extent that we feel drained in whichever aspect of our lives.
“Somewhere along the way, most people-pleasers learned that their authentic selves were not lovable enough, so they believe —consciously or subconsciously—that the only way to secure the love they crave is to be different.”
This, for me, is something to reflect upon. Before, I consider myself a “people-pleaser” though thankfully, I know and am sure that I have improved a lot since then. Also, I know that this is rooted from childhood experiences (after all, most of our behaviors are!) but through this point, I started wondering whether “most people-pleasers learned that their authentic self was not lovable enough”.
This might be indeed one of the reasons, but I would like to give you another possibility:
Let’s say, we know a people-pleaser who is well aware that he is a “good” person, in such a way that he intend neither to do harm nor to be the source of disappointment to others. In that sense, he has an idea that his authentic self was lovable enough. Now, the problem starts once he start to feel that no matter how “good” he is, the people he cares for still thinks it wasn’t enough. Worse, they especially emphasize it when he makes mistakes which is, very human.
So then, if he has a solid idea of his authentic self and has identified that the fault is sometimes on others, what could be the reason?
I think that it’s more about fear. Let’s say, for example, that when this person was little, it was clearly imposed to him that he should please his parents; in a way, it was instilled in him that he is responsible for their happiness. If he disappoints them, they will both be sad and mad. As a result, he got so well in hiding his feelings, especially, sadness. He learned not to cry in front of them even though he was already breaking apart because no matter what, it was his fault — he believed that when people hurt him, it was only because either he was really wrong or he simply allowed them to do so. Either case, he was always the one to blame and so, his defense mechanism then was just to burry those feelings and appear as cheerful and jolly at home.
Unfortunately, there was a specific amount of time when he brought this attitude with him. For a long time, he feared that people will only value him if he makes them happy. You see, it was not because he found out that his authentic self wasn’t lovable but simply because he feared that like his parents, they might crush his spirit through terrorizing him verbally, emotionally, or physically.
Besides, the article wonderfully crafted this idea into words:
“It can be challenging to speak up for ourselves when we already feel threatened, bullied, or pressured. If we were raised in an environment where we were harmed when we spoke up for ourselves, we may find the very idea of setting boundaries impossible.”
When we find ourselves in this type of situation, remember to avoid saying “yes” to someone who would not approve of you, as a person, once you start expressing negative emotions. No matter how ugly those emotions are, they’re real — so remember, as long as you do not intend to harm others using these emotions, you have the liberty to express them. Anyone who does not accept you for this fact does not deserve you.
“… those of us who overpromise either do the agreed-upon task—albeit resentfully—or back out altogether.”
The results of overpromising were already presented above. Agreeing resentfully means doing a task half-heartedly (or without heart at all, for we might only dream of finally finishing it!). On the other hand, greater complexities might arise when we have convinced someone in accomplishing a task yet when conflicts arise, abandon it suddenly.
This is one of the most obvious reasons to not say “yes” to another task. However, I understand that it is indeniably hard, especially for people-pleasers. In order not to disappoint someone, we tend to simply agree to their conditions and submit to their deadlines. This is clearly unhealthy! We must learn how to set and express our boundaries, lest we find ourselves exhausted and always taken-for-granted.
These points made an impact in my life and through elaborating them, I hope that I was able to help you as well. Remember, we should not agree to every opportunity presented to us. Accept only those which give you peace of mind.
Cheers to a great and happy life!